“Because what’s more festive than a fried chicken wreath?”
Partly named because of the sauce that accompanies this wreath of crispy, golden, fiery chicken wings, and partly because this dish will steal the show at any non-vegan dinner party, I want to formally apologise in advance for introducing it to you – because you will want to whip this up every night. It’s that addictive.
I was first introduced to “Bandit Sauce” by Benjamin Cooper, head chef of Chin Chin restaurant in Melbourne. The recipe for his chicken wings with Bandit Sauce dish was shared on Broadsheet a few years ago, so I added it to my recipe collection and have been perfecting it ever since – finding it goes well with almost everything deep fried and crispy. This year, I decided to take the sauce back to it’s roots and paired it with my own variation of Cooper’s chilli-salt wings: a marriage of Indonesian Padang style Ayam Pop (a variation of white cut chicken) and yum cha style salt and pepper squid. So you could say this is a mutt of a dish. Bit of Sichuan, bit of Padang and a bit of Canton.
You’ll be pleased to know it’s not very complicated at all, despite the complex origins. There are just a few key things to take note:
- Make sure your chicken wings are jointed, to make them easier to eat.
- Use tapioca flour for a crumb that is light yet has an intense crunch.
- Ditch the food processor and invest in a good quality mortar and pestle to bash up your bandit sauce spices for a bit of adrenaline therapy.
I make bandit sauce whenever I have a really bad day. All hail the good old mortar and pestle!
Bandit Fried Chicken Wreath
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Assembly: 5 minutes
Serves: 6-8 people
- 2 litres reduced salt chicken stock
- half a lemon, sliced
- 6 sprigs of coriander
- half a stalk of lemongrass, bruised
- 1 tablespoon crushed Sichuan peppercorn
- 3 kaffir lime leaves, julienned
Sichuan chilli salt wings
- 16 chicken wings
- 1 egg – for dredging
- tapioca flour – for coating
- 1/2 tablespoon of coarse pink himalayan salt
- 1/2 tablespoon of crushed Sichuan peppercorns
- 1/2 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
- 1/4 tablespoon of five spice powder
- vegetable oil – for frying
Bandit sauce (from Chin Chin’s Benjamin Cooper)
- 1 lemongrass stem, chopped
- 1 small of knob ginger, finely chopped
- 1 small of knob galangal, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 large red chilli, chopped
- 2 large green chillies, chopped
- 4 birds eye chillies, chopped
- 200 grams of palm sugar, shaved
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice
- 1 kaffir lime leaf, julienned
- fish sauce to taste
- 1 large red chilli, sliced
- 3 sprigs coriander, leaves picked
1.In a large heavy-based pot, bring all the ingredients of the master stock to the boil.
2. Add the chicken wings and return to the boil before reducing it to a low simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes for super tender, fall off the bone meat. Remove wings from liquid and place on a tray to cool.
3. In the meantime, make the bandit sauce by pounding the lemongrass, ginger, galangal, garlic and chillies to make a paste. Put to one side.
4. In the same mortar and pestle start dissolving the palm sugar with a bit of lemon juice. Rub that in slowly, adding more juice as you go. When it dissolves into a paste, mix together with the pounded chilli mixture, kaffir lime leaf and a splash of fish sauce. Taste and add more fish sauce if you think it needs it. Set aside for serving.
5. To finish the chicken wings, dip each wing in the egg and then tapioca flour to coat, shaking off any excess. Deep-fry the wings in batches in hot oil (I used a fryer but you could just use a large wok) until crisp and golden for about 10 minutes.
6. To make the Sichuan chilli salt, use the mortar and pestle to crush the salt, chilli flakes, peppercorn flakes, and five spice powder until it combines into a fine powder. Sprinkle over the fried chicken and toss to coat.
7. Arrange on a serving plate, and garnish with sliced chilli and coriander leaves, and the bandit sauce in a dipping bowl.
- If you live in Melbourne, you can find a list of ethical meat suppliers to purchase your chicken wings here: http://sustainabletable.org.au/Hungryforinfo/EthicalMeatSuppliers/Melbourne/tabid/136/Default.aspx
- Struggling to find galangal? You can substitute with more ginger, or try visiting your local Asian grocer. If you’re in Melbourne, you’re sure to find some in Springvale market.